Did NASCAR and Goodyear bring the wrong tires to Bristol?
The NASCAR Cup Series is going to be racing on a dirt track for the first time since 1970, setting up a tantalizing prospect for fans who are only used to asphalt racing. Between the spectacle of seeing heavy stock cars drift around the half-mile oval while kicking up red clay and the prospect of new faces dicing for the lead, it's set to be a race to remember.
Unfortunately, for the teams, the race might be remembered for other reasons. That's because the tires provided to them by Goodyear for this weekend have been coming apart at a much quicker rate than anticipated, due to Bristol's abrasive surface. Teams and drivers have called on NASCAR to fix the problem by allowing them an extra set of tires, as well as an additional pit stop, but the sanctioning body has yet to comment on the subject.
“I’d be surprised if they don’t change some sort of rule between now and then, either give us another set of tires or maybe another caution,” Denny Hamlin said during a press conference when asked about the tires NASCAR brought to the track. “If they don’t, then we run on bald tires. We all run on bald tires. You've just got to make sure you do it better than everyone else.”
NASCAR officials announced earlier in the year that teams will run the final 100 laps on a single set of tires, which many drivers now think will prove difficult. Also keep in mind that the teams are not allowed to change tires during green flag racing, meaning the drivers will have to be very conservative with their equipment.
"It seems like red clay is just always more abrasive, for whatever reason that is,” Camping World Truck Series driver Chase Briscoe said, while commenting on the tire situation. “I think we probably need to do something. Our car, especially, seems like after 20 laps, we’re already showing chords. Probably need to do something.”
As things stand, NASCAR can either make a preemptive move to ensure the drivers and teams are not put in a precarious position, or let everyone race on bald tires. If they go with the second option, it's going to be very hard to take the race seriously from a competitive standpoint, and could be a repeat of the 2008 Brickyard 400 that saw the race get interrupted constantly due to tire issues.